What cities are doing

Cities Coalition for Digital Rights is a joint initiative to protect, promote and monitor residents’ and visitors’ digital rights. In the three cities, local governments have already been taking actions.

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Photo by Alphons Nieuwenhuis


Amsterdam believes in people centered approach to technology. Starting her term in June 2018, Deputy Mayor Meliani is developing an ambitious policy framework, called “the digital city,” including proposals on data minimization, open by default, privacy by design, and a ban on Wi-Fi tracking. Also, the participatory manifest “Tada, clarity about data” - created with local business, academia and residents - will be implemented, highlighting concepts such as inclusion, transparency and ethical data use.

To put word into actions, Amsterdam is pioneering creating open accountable tech solutions at their Datalab. For example, every year, 250.000 issues in public space, such as trash on the street, are reported to the City of Amsterdam and directly routed to the right person on the street by an algorithm. To ensure this technology is fair and beneficial to all, a neutral audit will be conducted, testing whether the algorithm is not biased towards particular privileged areas or problems.

The city of Amsterdam is convinced that diverse input from residents is essential in their policy making. OpenCity Amsterdam provides easy-to-use digital participation tools to include the residents voice, such as co creating the design of public space. In Amsterdam civic initiatives have emerged to empower people digitally. ‘Programming school ‘Codam’ makes sure everyone who is motivated - degree or no degree - gets a chance to learn coding.

Cities should join forces to set the conditions for innovation in the digital city. Together with Eindhoven, Amsterdam has developed four main principles providing guidance to citizens and entrepreneurs about the values and norms of the digital infrastructure, such as sensors and data usage in urban public space. These four principles has been widely adopted in other Dutch cities through the Association of Netherlands Municipalities. DECODE is a response to people’s concerns about a loss of control over their personal information on the internet. In the EU-project Amsterdam and partners provide tools that put individuals in control of their data. In the next years, Amsterdam is excited to learn more from other cities in the digital rights coalition.

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Barcelona Ethical Digital Standards - a Policy Toolkit

Barcelona has been working for over 2 years on its Open Digitisation Plan and one of the important results are Barcelona’s Ethical Digital Standards, an open source Policy Toolkit for cities to develop digital policies that put citizens at the center and make Governments more open, transparent, and collaborative.

This is a decisive policy change that puts people first in the design of government services and reinforces their digital rights. The City reinforces its policy for technological sovereignty, for full control of its ICT services and infrastructures, and the ethical use of data to be more open and transparent, while returning data sovereignty to citizens.

In the context of this programme, Barcelona has released several digital services as reusable open source software, key among them is its flagship citizens' participation platform Decidim, which Barcelona has deployed to support direct consultation with its citizens. Another important project in this initiative is the Barcelona Open Data portal, enabling more transparency regarding city services, and showcasing open data based citizen projects within its "Reuser" area.

In the area of data protection, Barcelona has recently appointed its first Chief Data Officer, director of the Municipal Data Office, and has put privacy and compliance with the recent EU General Data Protection Regulation at the heart of its data management and digital service design, supervised by its Data Protection Officer. Barcelona is also a key participant in the Decode project, a collaborative initiative at European level to strengthen citizens data rights and put them back in control of their data as well as enable them to share this data for the common good.

Barcelona is committed to work for Technological Sovereignty and is releasing a Manifesto in favour of technological sovereignty for cities and citizens’ digital rights.

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Photo by Edwin J. Torres, NYC Mayoral Photo Office

Make Technology Work for All New Yorkers

In his first term in 2013, Mayor de Blasio established the goal of making sure every New Yorker has affordable, high-speed internet access by 2025. Since, the City of New York has invested in broadband infrastructure and is creating new ways to bring equitable service to all areas of New York City, including bringing free Wi-Fi to Queensbridge Houses, the country’s largest public housing complex.

In 2016, the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology officer created a set of best practices and resources for using smart technologies responsibly in order to establish open and ethical digital service standards. More than 35 leading cities have signed on to the Guidelines for the Internet of Things.

Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio launched a national coalition calling on all U.S. mayors to join a Cities Open Internet Pledge requiring all U.S. internet providers with whom they do business to follow a strong set of Net Neutrality principles. Over 100 mayors across the country have signed onto the Cities Open Internet Pledge to prevent providers from being the gatekeeper between residents and the local government services on which they depend every day.

The City of New York also held its first Library Privacy Week this year, which included a series of more than 30 free public workshops aimed at teaching residents better data privacy and security practices. Library Privacy Week 2018 marked the formal launch of NYC Digital Safety: Privacy & Security, a project that ensures that NYC residents can rely on public libraries for their questions about internet privacy and security while promoting civic engagement and participation.

Endorse my city

"I request my city council to join the cities coalition for digital rights and protect and uphold our human rights in my city. The same human rights that people have offline must also be protected online."

Cities who would like to sign and learn more about the coalition, please contact us at: endorse@citiesfordigitalrights.org